Impediments to International Cooperation – Amanda DelGiudice

Is it becoming harder to the major players on the international field to cooperate? In light of recent events in Crimea and the failure of powers like China, India, and Brazil to stand with the United States against Russia, some would say yes. But is this difficulty in cooperation new? I am inclined to say that this is not an entirely new issue. I think the realist arguments put forth by Mearsheimer also apply.

Mearsheimer presents an analysis of realism, which I believe can be applied to his situation. Realism includes several assumptions, which can be applied to this situation and can explain the behavior of the major powers involved. These include the idea that the international playing field is ruled by a security competition, that states hold military power, that it is impossible to predict the actions of other states, and that all states are motivated by survival. If we accept these standards of realism, we can then apply the theory to the current situation between Russia and Ukraine.

The United States has possessed a role as one of the world’s major leading powers since the end of World War II. On the other hand, China, India, and Brazil have all emerged as powerful nations in recent years. They are occupying a new position in the international political realm. Because of this, they are likely to be motivated by survival and a desire to maintain their recently gained prominence and power. In their relatively new power status, they would be wise to focus on maintaining their own security. It is also true that all of these nations, China, Brazil, India, the United States, and Russia, possess military power and that it is impossible for any to predict the actions of the other.

Considering these assumptions, we can explain why China, Brazil, and India might be discouraged from taking a stance against Russia. When viewing the Ukraine situation, these nations would, according to realism, judge whether it was a threat to their security or survival. In this situation, I think the Ukraine-Russia conflict is not a threat to the security or survival of the other nations. I believe it is unlikely that Russia would invade these other nations whom it has allied itself with in recent years under the BRIC. I think these nations would conclude Russia not to be a threat unless they turned against their ally. It more unlikely that these nations would be unable to predict the actions of Russia, who clearly possesses military power and is prepared to use this power, after they publicly denounce Russia than if they ignored the situation.

On the other hand, the United States has not had a renewed alliance with Russia such as the BRIC. The United States has enjoyed major power status for over 50 years and views its security and survival differently. They have continuously committed themselves to the promotion of democracy. I think it is possible that ignoring the situation in Crimea might be viewed as hypocrisy on the part of the United States. Therefore, I believe it is in the interests of the security and survival of the United States to publicly stand against Russia.

Therefore using the realist theory and the factors identified by Mearsheimer in 1995, we can explain the lack of cooperation between the major powers.

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